How To: Use hand signals on a bicycle

Use hand signals on a bicycle

Watch this video tutorial to learn how to use hand signals on a bicycle. Bicycles don't come with turn signals and brake lights. Fortunately, there's already a universal language for indicating turns and stops on a bike.

You Will Need

* Helmet
* Left arm
* Bike

Step 1. Prepare to turn left

Learn how to signal a left turn. About 50 yards before the turn, take your left hand off the handlebars and extend it to the left, perpendicular to your body.

Step 2. Turn left

Hold your hand open and point it in the direction you're turning. Keeping your arm extended, start riding from the right shoulder of the street to the left side of the lane. Once you reach the intersection, turn left.

Don't assume that cars behind you have noticed your hand signal. Always glance backwards quickly before you initiate your turn to check for traffic.

Step 3. Turn right

Know how to signal a right turn. About 25 yards before you turn right, raise your left hand with the elbow bent 90 degrees, your hand pointing skyward, and your left arm forming an "L." Check for traffic before entering the intersection to turn.=

Step 4. Stop

Learn the signal for a stop. About 50 yards before you come to a stop, raise your left elbow until it is perpendicular to your body. Point your fingers down to the pavement, palm facing the traffic or riders behind you, so your arm forms a reverse "7." Hold this position until you come to a stop.

Step 5. Signal for a group

Know the signal for a group of riders. If you are riding with a group behind you, signal drivers in front of you by raising your left hand straight above your head, palm forward.

FACT: Drivers and motorcyclists whose turn signals and brake lights aren't working can also use the same signals.

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The left arm signal to turn right is outdated and no longer employed by most cyclists, although technically still legal. The laws have changed in most states so that the right arm is used to indicate a right turn on bicycles. The left arm signal comes from long ago when motor vehicles may not have had turn signals, so the driver had to use his left arm to indicate a right turn. When used on a bicycles, the left arm pointed up to turn right signal is no longer understood by most drivers and creates and unsafe and ambiguous indication to most drivers. The current legal and accepted method is to indicate a right turn on a bicycle is with the right arm pointed right, which is unambiguous and provides a better understanding for drivers that are following.

Comment on Step 5 signal for a group of riders. I've NEVER seen this signal in 40 years of riding, nor have I ever heard of it, even from the most experienced of riders. I'm not sure what raising you arm over your head would ever accomplish, as no one knows what it means and after reading the description, I still don't. Nor can I find such a signal in my state's laws on cycling.

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